Noel Ignatiev, scholar who called for abolishing whiteness, dies at 78

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2019-11-12 16:35Z by Steven

Noel Ignatiev, scholar who called for abolishing whiteness, dies at 78

The Los Angeles Times
2019-11-11

Sewell Chan, Deputy Managing Editor, News

Noel Ignatiev
Noel Ignatiev’s 1995 book “How the Irish Became White” was influential and controversial, touching off a firestorm of debate.

Noel Ignatiev, a former steelworker who became a historian known for his work on race and class and his call to abolish “whiteness,” died at Banner-University Medical Center Tucson on Saturday. He was 78. The cause was an intestinal infarction, according to Kingsley Clarke, a longtime friend.

Ignatiev’s best-known book, “How the Irish Became White,” was immediately influential and controversial upon its publication in 1995. It touched off a firestorm of debate at the time at academic conferences and in the pages of newspapers. In time his view that whiteness is a social and political construction — and not a phenomenon with a biological basis — has become mainstream. The resurgence of white identity politics and white nationalism in recent years made Ignatiev’s arguments relevant to a new generation of readers who argued the notion that race is more about power and privilege rather than about ancestry, or even identity.

The book detailed how the Irish, who had first come to North America as indentured servants and were reviled by the more settled populations of English and Dutch Americans, became, by the mid-19th century, accepted as white. Sadly, Ignatiev argued, the Irish became incorporated into whiteness just before the Civil War, through support for slavery and violence against free African Americans. To become white, Ignatiev wrote, did not mean to be middle class, much less rich, but rather to be accepted as equal citizens and to have access to the same neighborhoods, schools and jobs as others…

Read the entire obituary here.

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Opinion: The pernicious myth of a Caucasian race

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive on 2019-10-26 03:06Z by Steven

Opinion: The pernicious myth of a Caucasian race

The Los Angeles Times
2019-09-11

Joel Dinerstien, Professor of English
Tulane University, New Orleans Louisiana

Anthropologists have for centuries studied human skulls and drawn conclusions about human origins — some of them inaccurate.
Anthropologists have for centuries studied human skulls and drawn conclusions about human origins — some of them inaccurate. (Menahem Kahana / AFP/Getty Images)

How did a female skull lead to “Caucasians”?

In the vocabulary of ethnicity, some designations are obvious. African Americans are of African descent; Latinos have Latin American roots. But what about Caucasians? If a Native American told a Caucasian to “go back where you came from,” where would that person go?

Geographically, Caucasia is a region of Russia, a place from which few white Americans come. Yet the term Caucasian remains in wide use as a synonym for a white person.

The classification dates back to 1795, when Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, a respected German physician and anthropologist, conducted research in which he measured skulls, a then-common practice for comparing disparate human groups…

Read the entire article here.

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Claiming to be Cherokee, contractors with white ancestry got $300 million

Posted in Articles, Economics, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2019-07-10 17:36Z by Steven

Claiming to be Cherokee, contractors with white ancestry got $300 million

The Los Angeles Times
2019-06-26

Adam Elmahrek, Investigative Reporter

Paul Pringle, Investigative Reporter

Two years ago, when the mayor’s office in St. Louis announced a $311,000 contract to tear down an old shoe factory, it made a point of identifying the demolition company as minority owned.

That was welcome news. The Missouri city was still grappling with racial tensions from the 2014 fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, a black 18-year-old, in nearby Ferguson. After angry protests, elected officials had pledged to set aside more government work for minority-owned firms.

There was only one problem…

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Novels That Reach for the Stars : DECORATIONS IN A RUINED CEMETERY, By John Gregory Brown (Houghton Mifflin: $19.95; 244 pp.)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2019-05-29 00:09Z by Steven

Novels That Reach for the Stars : DECORATIONS IN A RUINED CEMETERY, By John Gregory Brown (Houghton Mifflin: $19.95; 244 pp.)

The Los Angeles Times
1994-01-23

Margaret Langstaff

I wish more people today would attempt books like this one, novels that take on the big questions, the eternal verities, and, without pretense and a whole lot of claptrap, address the difficulty of finding meaning and significance in life. For this is the stuff of which classics are made and what literature, certainly, is all about. That John Gregory Brown had the nerve to square off before such issues in his first novel is by itself laudable. The fact that he wrote a fine story with believable, memorable characters in the process is reason for applause.

Brown, not yet 40, writes out of the Southern tradition in fiction, and is midway, in terms of depth and accessibility, between Faulkner and Walker Percy, (sort of a Lite-Faulkner or a Percy au jus.) Race, family, heritage, faith, good and evil are the obsessions in question, and the plot turns on critical choices having to do with one’s understanding of the difference between virtuous behavior and cowardice, and one’s courage to do the right thing. More readable than Faulkner, less comedic than Percy, Brown is nonetheless in their direct line of descent, their natural heir, without any obvious imitation.

Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery” concerns the Eagen family of New Orleans and its immediate vicinity, Irish Catholics whose lineage is made more colorful, if not more difficult, by containing within it a black matriarch who mysteriously, in midlife, disappears, leaving her husband and small son to continue their lives without her. The legacy of this racial intermarriage and the mystery of Molly Moore Eagen’s disappearance–unsolved until the book’s final pages–haunt and twist the lives of three generations of Eagens…

Read the entire review here.

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“My mother understood she was raising two black children to be black women.”

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-03-29 02:59Z by Steven

“My mother understood she was raising two black children to be black women,” [Kamala] Harris said in the interview, a line she has often used to settle questions on the subject. Shyamala Gopalan Harris encouraged her daughter to go to Howard [University], a school her mother knew well, having guest lectured there and having friends on the faculty.

“There was nothing unnatural or in conflict about it at all,” Harris said. “There were a lot of kids at Howard who had a background where one parent was maybe from the Philippines and the other might be from Nairobi,” she added. “Howard encompasses the [African] diaspora.”

Evan Halper, “A political awakening: How Howard University shaped Kamala Harris’ identity,” The Los Angeles Times, March 19, 2019. https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-kamala-harris-howard-university-20190319-story.html.

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A political awakening: How Howard University shaped Kamala Harris’ identity

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States, Women on 2019-03-29 02:47Z by Steven

A political awakening: How Howard University shaped Kamala Harris’ identity

The Los Angeles Times
2019-03-19

Evan Halper

A political awakening: How Howard University shaped Kamala Harris’ identity
Kamala Harris, right, protests South African apartheid with classmate Gwen Whitfield on the National Mall in November 1982. (Photo courtesy of Kamala Harris)

The war on drugs had erupted, apartheid was raging, Jesse Jackson would soon make the campus a staging ground for his inaugural presidential bid. Running for student office in 1982 at Howard University — the school that nurtured Thurgood Marshall, Toni Morrison and Stokely Carmichael — was no joke.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has been known to break the ice with voters by proclaiming the freshman-year campaign in which she won a seat on the Liberal Arts Student Council her toughest political race. Those who were at the university with her are not so sure she is kidding.

It was at Howard that the senator’s political identity began to take shape. Thirty-three years after she graduated in 1986, the university in the nation’s capital, one of the country’s most prominent historically black institutions, also serves as a touchstone in a campaign in which political opponents have questioned the authenticity of her black identity.

“I reference often my days at Howard to help people understand they should not make assumptions about who black people are,” Harris said in a recent interview…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Hidden Figures’ NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson to release autobiography next year

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2019-01-21 18:48Z by Steven

‘Hidden Figures’ NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson to release autobiography next year

The Los Angeles Times
2018-12-20

Michael Schaub

'Hidden Figures' NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson to release autobiography next year 
This combination photo shows, Katherine Johnson in the press room at the Oscars in Los Angeles on Feb. 26, 2017, left, and her book “Reaching For the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson.” ((Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, left, and Atheneum Books for Young Readers))

Katherine Johnson, the pioneering NASA mathematician and computer scientist whose work was integral to the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, will release an autobiography for young readers next year.

The 100-year-old Johnson, who was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson in the hit 2016 movie “Hidden Figures,” will tell her life story in “Reaching for the Moon,” a book for middle-grade readers, publisher Atheneum Books for Young Readers announced in a news release.

Johnson, a West Virginia native, was hired by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the predecessor to NASA, in 1953. She worked as a “human computer,” or a mathematician who could perform complicated calculations manually…

Read the entire article here.

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After more than two centuries of willful collective ignorance about Jefferson and Hemings, it might sound far-fetched to suggest that she ought to be designated a first lady. But our country was populated through precisely this sort of racial mixing — sexual relationships that, it bears repeating, enslaved people such as Hemings did not choose for themselves.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2019-01-05 01:57Z by Steven

After more than two centuries of willful collective ignorance about Jefferson and Hemings, it might sound far-fetched to suggest that she ought to be designated a first lady. But our country was populated through precisely this sort of racial mixing — sexual relationships that, it bears repeating, enslaved people such as Hemings did not choose for themselves.

Evelia Jones, “It’s time to recognize Sally Hemings as a first lady of the United States,” The Los Angeles Times, January 4, 2019. https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-jones-sally-hemings-first-lady-20190104-story.html.

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It’s time to recognize Sally Hemings as a first lady of the United States

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia, Women on 2019-01-05 01:31Z by Steven

It’s time to recognize Sally Hemings as a first lady of the United States

The Los Angeles Times
2019-01-04

Evelia Jones

It’s time to recognize Sally Hemings as a first lady of the United States
A man reads a plaque about Sally Hemings at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s estate in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (Steve Ruark / Associated Press)

It is now widely understood that my ancestor Sally Hemings, an enslaved black woman, was the intimate companion of Thomas Jefferson for nearly four decades.

Monticello, the Virginia plantation operated as a museum by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, acknowledged as much with a new exhibit last year: Hemings’ living quarters. The exhibit presents as fact that Hemings gave birth to at least six of Jefferson’s children.

Much about their relationship remains lost to history. We know that Hemings was Jefferson’s property, and that in America she did not have the right to refuse sexual advances from her owner. We also know that Hemings was able to negotiate freedom for her children and “extraordinary privileges” for herself, and that she occupied a central place in Jefferson’s life…

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They married in 1968 as a nation fought for civil rights. 50 years later an interracial couple looks back

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2018-06-13 13:45Z by Steven

They married in 1968 as a nation fought for civil rights. 50 years later an interracial couple looks back

The Los Angeles Times
2018-05-29

Colleen Shalby, Community Engagement Editor

They married in 1968 as a nation fought for civil rights. 50 years later an interracial couple looks back
Charles and Janice Tyler are photographed in a hallway lined with family photographs including their wedding day photo, at right, at their Huntington Beach home. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Their wedding day was bookended by the deaths of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in April and Robert F. Kennedy in June. The Vietnam War raged abroad as a fight for civil rights continued at home.

For many, 1968 was marked by violence, bloodshed and protest. For Janice, a white woman, and Charles, a black man, 1968 marked the unlikely beginning of a 50-year marriage filled with four children and 11 grandchildren.

Interracial marriages were by no means a societal norm the year the Tylers wed. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Loving v. Virginia, which struck down the remaining laws that banned such unions, was handed down just one year before. Charles and Janice were not directly affected by the case – Illinois wasn’t one of the remaining 16 states. They did face prejudice, nonetheless.

“Back then, you just didn’t see black and white,” Charles said about the racial divide…

Read the entire article here.

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